Pre-trip information covers all travel related information that travellers need - in advance of making their journey. Travellers need to understand:
Good quality pre-trip information enables travellers to make informed decisions about their journey, so they can optimise their route and minimise their costs, travel time or environmental impact.
In certain situations, pre-trip information has been used as a network management tool. A good example is the London 2012 Olympics where the online journey planner incorporated predetermined capacity limits on certain routes.
The proliferation of the internet and the mobile internet has transformed the provision of pre-trip traveller information. Less than 20 years ago the main sources of pre-trip information were road and street atlases and printed railway and bus timetables - supplemented bytelephone information services. Increasingly these sources of pre-trip information are being replaced by services using the internet, mobile internet and social media.
Provision of pre-trip information via the internet provides benefits to travellers as well as information providers - enabling more timely provision of information and its delivery to the users at home, in the workplace and for travellers on the move - at relatively low cost. The low cost and ubiquitous nature of this information has greatly increased traveller expectations on availability, timeliness and accuracy of information - and this is a critical consideration when designing information systems.
The key platforms for providing pre-trip information ITS services include:
The mainstakeholders in providing pre-trip information are:
The nature of pre-trip information provision is affected by the institutional framework within which they are deployed. In some cases a city authority may be responsible for fulfilling all the roles itemised above - for example, in London, the public transport operator, road network manager, and public transport network manager roles are provided by Transport for London. This organisational framework makes it is easier to mandate the public transport operator to provide known service disruption information.
Pre-trip information can be a vital tool for the road network and/or public transport operators. In the case of a major disruption to the network, it benefits everybody to have information disseminated on the state of the network - and the otpions open to users. If a public transport operator cancels services, informing the travellers about how they can complete their journey helps to reduce stress, complaints and compensation demands. For a road network operator, pre-trip information can reduce network congestion in a region around closed network links. For example, by providing advanced warning to travellers about road closures due to snow, travellers can choose to change their route or their mode of transport - so minimising congestion on alternative routes and in the vicinity of the closure.
Pre-trip information needs to be tailored to the needs of users and the delivery channels they tend to use. A 'one size fits all' approach is often inappropriate - so care must be taken to ensure that consistent, but targeted messagesa is provided to each audience type.
Provision of fares and journey information for public transport journeys is a particular challenge in de-regulated environments - where public transport operators are not mandated to provide details of schedules & pricing policies to network managers or regulators. This can limit the level and quality of information that can be provided - to avoid this it is important to ensure early engagement with public transport operators.